Jesus' Words on Wealth Trump The Apprentice Mentality
- Friday, March 25, 2005
I must confess, I watch a reality TV show. Can you guess which one? If you guessed The Apprentice you'd be right. One reason I watch the show is that it packs quite a few lessons on business management into its one-hour slot every week. I've been interested in the field of business since I was a kid, so this show has huge appeal to me. I guess I was the Alex P. Keaton of my family.
The reality is - "reality shows" are anything but realistic. Survivor was the first reality show I ever watched. I was quickly disappointed when it became apparent the show was not about surviving, but rather forming alliances and whining and complaining. I didn't watch that show for very long.
I think that's why I like The Apprentice. You see real people competing against each other, and the "alliances" made so popular by Survivor don't live long in the boardroom. The Apprentice still has some of the backbiting and complaining that I don't care for, but it's not the purpose of the show. The purpose of the show is to have teams compete against each other while looking for ways to make the most profitable business.
One particularly fascinating aspect of the show for me is "The Donald" himself. Now, don't mistake my fascination for adoration. I'm just very interested in the way this man behaves. I laugh each week as he informs the teams (and the 30 million viewers) that he is the best, and that everything he has always has to be the biggest and best.
Though I may not agree with Donald Trump's way of doing business, it's hard to argue with the financial results. Based on numbers alone, the "Trump Way" of doing business makes a lot of sense. Based on the Bible, however, it makes little sense. Take a look at the parable in Luke of the rich, young man building bigger barns:
"A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. In fact, his barns were full to overflowing. So he said, 'I know! I'll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I'll have room enough to store everything. And I'll sit back and say to myself,' My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!' But God said to him, 'You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get it all?' Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God." (12:16 - 21)
When I read that parable, Donald Trump immediately comes to mind. His life is defined by his wealth accumulation. But Jesus makes it clear here -- you are a fool if you store up earthly wealth, but don't have a rich relationship with God.
Lest I be accused of attacking Donald Trump, he is not the only person I've seen with this attitude. The truth is, many of us are driven by our material possessions. As a financial planner, I have met with thousands of individuals and families over the years, and I've found that one thing we all have in common is an element of materialism within us. Yet the Bible is clear that materialism has no place in our lives.
Matthew records Jesus' words: "Don't store up treasures here on earth, where they can be eaten by moths and get rusty, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where they will never become moth-eaten or rusty and where they will be safe from thieves. Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be." (6:19 - 21)
We may not be busy building an empire of wealth on Donald Trump's scale, but we spend an awful lot of time worrying about what we will eat, what we will wear, what kind of car we will drive, and what kind of house we will live in. In the process, we lose sight of Jesus' message to think eternally.
Randy Alcorn, author of The Treasure Principle says "you can't take it with you, but you can send it on ahead." The ancient Egyptians didn't believe this. Their kings were buried with thousands of pounds of gold.
In 1922, anthropologist Howard Carter discovered the tomb of King Tut. What Carter found was quite impressive. King Tut was buried with solid gold chariots and thousands of golden artifacts. His gold coffin was found within gold tombs within gold tombs within more gold tombs. You see, the Egyptians believed you could take it with you.
Many of us behave more like those ancient Egyptians than we're comfortable admitting. We don't ask to be buried with masses of gold, but we cling to the things of this world as if we could take them with us.
We need to remind ourselves that materialism is a temptation as old as ancient Egypt yet the outcome is always the same: money does not bring happiness. Read what some of the wealthiest people in our country had to say about their money:
"The care of $200 million is enough to kill anyone. There is no pleasure in it." W.H. Vanderbilt.
"I am the most miserable man on earth." John Jacob Astor.
"Millionaires seldom smile." Andrew Carnegie.
"I was happier when I was doing a mechanic's job." Henry Ford.
Their failure to reach earthly bliss shouldn't be surprising. Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 5:10-11: "Those who love money will never have enough. How absurd to think that wealth brings true happiness! The more you have, the more people come to help you spend it. So what is the advantage of wealth - except perhaps to watch it run through your fingers!"
We yearn to be an apprentice to people like Donald Trump when we should in fact be pursuing an apprenticeship with Jesus. Who are you following?
Steve Scalici is the Vice President of Treasure Coast Financial, a financial planning firm in Stuart, FL. He is co-host of God's Money which can be heard weekdays at www.oneplace.com. He can also be reached at his website www.tcfin.com.
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